Personal communication

Evdemon, Mark

Book ID 722

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Evdemon, Mark Personal communication,
Extract Author: Mark Evdemon
Extract Date: 11 July 2003

Mark Evdemon - Arusha School 1945-1949

Very interesting site, specially as I attended the School for about 4 years (1945-1949); about the Meru mountain name was up on a board in the dining area at the time. Do you perhaps have a photo of that board?

Amazing to read about the Giant tortoise. I remember it well.


Thanks for your feedback and comments.

I don't think I have a photo of "your board", but as you will see from there are lots of boards still hanging. The one board I took a picture of related to the time I was there (1953-57).

I was back in Arusha last month and visited the school again - and yes the boards are still there, as is the tortoise. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me, but next time I will try to make sure that I do, and maybe to capture all the boards. I did make a note of all the headmaster names (N.E Langford-Smith 1945-46, C.E.Hamshere 1946-63), and met the current head, and was shown round by one of the teachers. The same buildings as existed in our time, now house 1300 pupils. They still use the same crest/badge, and the motto "Seeking the Highest" has been added. (I'm not sure when, maybe it's always been the school motto). One teacher was very keen to emphasise that they try to teach and live by that motto. And literally - they still have the annual Meru climb.

Good to hear from you. May I have your permission to add your name and comments to the web site. I don't publish email addresses on the web, but happily put people in touch if so requested. If you have any interesting memories, photos or cuttings from your time in Arusha I'm sure there are many who would be interested in sharing them.

Hello David...thanks for your informative e-mail and the interesting Tanzania site that you made. I will be surfing through it again as I am not done checking it all yet. Sure, you can use my name, etc. as you see fit. I am sending you the below address of a site that I made last year so that when I am gone, my children will have a short "history" of my life.

Extract ID: 4324

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Evdemon, Mark Personal communication,
Page Number: 3
Extract Date: 12 February,1936

We lived in Tanganyika . . .

I don't know exactly where I was born, whether in a hospital or at home. All I know is that we lived in Tanganyika (presently Tanzania), East Africa. My Father had a farm in the province of Mbugwe, in the district of Mbulu. Nice names,huh? Also, it was in darkest Africa, We walked around with lamps and flashlights. Not really; just kidding.

I had 2 older brothers, Photis and Panos (Pete) and younger sister, Stergia.

Anyway, the nearest town was Arusha, about 30 miles away. My early memories are of a mud brick house,tamped dirt floor and a thatched roof. The kitchen area was an attached grass wall hut. I recall one evening waking up to pots and pans banging around and all that noise was due to a hungry hyena scrounging around for food. There were lots of various wild animals and insects in the nearby bush country. We slept under mosquito nets and took quinine pills to prevent malaria attacks from the swarms of mosquitos. The black people that lived in the area were generally friendly and several were employed by my Father for farm and house work. My Dad had several guns and he often went hunting both as a sport and for financial reasons. One time as we were having lunch, we saw elephants uprooting some cotton plants and trampling a part of the farm. My Dad went after them with a gun and chased the elephants away by firing some shots into the air.

I didn't have toys to speak of. I played with whatever was handy and available. One of my "special" toys was catching dragon flies and tying a string around them and flying them about. They were my home made planes. Also, I was always interested in anything in the nature all around us.

One day a black man came to our home asking for help as he was attacked by a leopard and needed the wounds on his back treated with whatever medicines we had. My Mom took care of that and I am sure that he recovered well. During one of the rainy seasons, a dry river bed flooded and sent a torrent of water all over the countryside. We had to have a small earthen dam built around our compound to keep the water out of the houses.

We did not have an automobile. The main road (a dirt road) was several miles away and we had to camp on the side of the road and await a truck to come by in order to hitch a ride into town. The first time I had a piece of chocolate, I was probably 3 years old, on a trip to Arusha. I thought that was a most wonderful treat.

There were a few other European owned farms near us. One of them was a Greek farm and we would go over to visit and listen to their radio. It worked off a car battery. It must have been around 1940 as I recall the adults talking about the war in Europe and the Italians having a difficult time when they attacked Greece and were repulsed back into Albania. Probably why I have always had an interest in World War II history.My all time World War II hero being Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of all time. His book and movie "To Hell and Back" are both excellent accounts of his experiences.

When I was about 4, we were at some one's house and I had suffered a burn on the back of my left palm. I remember somebody riding me on a bicycle to a nearby clinic for several days while my hand was being treated. Near that house were ostriches and I would watch them and sometimes chase them around. I was lucky that they never attacked me. They say God takes care of stupid and drunk people but I was only about 4 years old. At one other house that we visited, they had several wild animal pets and one of them was a buffalo. I was terrified of that large beast. I was lifted up by some one and was told that it was OK to pet it and I reached out and petted his horns and massive head.

One time I must have walked through some bushes and my legs were scratched. To stop the bleeding I rubbed some dust on the scratches, like using talcum powder. The bleeding did stop and I suppose it's a miracle that my legs were not infected, or worse.

I had two Godfathers; one was Anthony Karaiskos and he gave me the name Marcos.I do not recall the other Godfather's name. He gave me my middle name, Constantine. I was asked which name I preferred as my first and I chose Marcos as Karaiskos was my favorite Godparent.

Extract ID: 4325

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Evdemon, Mark Personal communication,
Page Number: 4a
Extract Date: 1941-1951

We moved nearer the coast, between the towns of Tanga and Mombasa

About May of 1941 we had moved to another place nearer the coast, between the towns of Tanga and Mombasa. I enjoyed the sea very much. At that time I was getting old enough to attend the Greek school near Moshi, at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. That was approximately a 2 day trip by train. I was quite upset in having to leave home and stay in school for a 3 month term. The school year was divided into 3 three month terms and 3 one month periods of home leave. Yep, they were boarding schools for most students. The school building apparently used to belong to some pre war German organisation; there was a huge black swastika painted on the back of one of the main buildings. Tanganyika used to be an important German colony before and during World War I. The school was surrounded by coffee and banana plantations. We lived in dormitories, about 120 boys on one side and 80 girls on the other side, separated by a large dining hall. It was grades 1 through 4, I think.The food was not much to my liking, especially when we had to eat eggplants, okra and turnips. YUK ! One evening as we were getting ready to go to sleep, there was a strong earth tremor and we thought it was a lot of fun as our beds on wheels were bumping into each other like bumper cars in an amusement park.

We sometimes went swimming in a nearby crater lake called Duluti. It was a scary lake and it had leeches in it that we had to scrape off our legs when we exited the murky water. Slimy little things they were. Another time while in school, there was a plague of locust swarms; millions of them landed on the playing fields and we would run through them. Some would fly up but most were too busy eating everything in sight and we stomped hundreds of them. The sky was almost dark when they finally decided to fly off and there were hundreds of birds feasting on them. What a strange experience that was!

One of our Saturday afternoon past times was getting our "home made" slingshots out and using some firm round yellow berries called "ndulele" as ammunition. We would exchange fire with some black kids across a hedge that marked the perimeter of our school grounds. Nobody got hurt much during these exchanges and both sides enjoyed the duels. It did sting a lot when a berry hit home however.

Extract ID: 4331

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Evdemon, Mark Personal communication,
Page Number: 4b
Extract Date: 1941---1951

Arusha School

I had a younger sister in school. Unfortunately she died there from malarial fever. That was a big blow and within a couple of months I was transferred to the English grade school in Arusha, some 50 miles away. That was around 1943. I did not know much English, just good morning and good night and relied on some Swahili words for a while. Then I started speaking English as best I could and of course I was made plenty of fun of by many kids. That led to several "fights" but that is how growing up in our schools was. Plenty of competition and scraps. Life in the English school became quite good and interesting. They started me off in 3rd grade but was dropped back to 2nd for a spell until I was able to communicate after a few weeks.

Most of the kids were English with a mixture of Greeks, South Africans, Germans, Italians and Polish (refugees from the war). Again, home was a long way away and we lived in dormitories for 3 months and went home for one month. We would get on the train and travel 2 days between home and school. Others lived even further and it would take them 4 to 5 days of train and bus travel. The school was about 3 miles from the train station and when we arrived, they woud line us up and walk us to the school.Our lugguage was brought up by truck.

We were assigned dormitories according to age groups. Some weekends we boarded busses (more like cattle trucks) and they would take us on what they called Picnics. That was a lot of fun. One time they announced on the public address system that they needed some volunteers for clean up duty. I and 3 others volunteered. They took us in a pickup truck to Ngorongoro Crater, some 50 miles away. This is supposed to be the largest crater in the world and is featured quite often on Television travelogs. Many animals live in the crater year round.

Another time, we were asked to get an OK from our parents for mountain climbing. I got the OK. There were about 12 boys and 3 girls in the group and we were bussed to a base camp on the slopes of Mt Meru. This is the 2nd highest moutain in Tanzania, at approximately 14,764 feet high. About 3 in the morning we took off through the forest on our way to climb the mountain. We had an "Askari" (Swahili for soldier); he was to protect us with his gun from encounters with wild animals. Fortunately both there and back we only met up with wild boar and heard lions roar in the distance. Half way up most of the climbers stopped due to fatigue and other problems. 4 boys and a teacher made it to the top. It was very cold and there were several small glaciers up there. We signed our names in a book that was inside a small stone hut and rested awhile, enjoying the vistas.When the clouds obscured the views, we started on our return trip and met the stragglers as we descended the mountain. We finally reached our base camp about 2 AM and went to sleep. When we returned to school, they entered our names on a large plaque that was in the dining area, joining some other names that had preceeded us on the Mt. Meru climbs.

Start of 1950 I left the grade school and went to the only high school in the area; it was in another country, Kenya. . . .

Extract ID: 4332

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Evdemon, Mark Personal communication,
Page Number: 5a
Extract Date: 1955

hitch hiking to Tanganyika

When we completed the Accounting school, we left Nairobi and hitch hiked back to Tanganyika. Our first ride was one third of our trip back home. Foolishly we left the village that we were dropped off at and started walking the dirt road, expecting to hike to Arusha on the next vehicle that came along. Unfortunately there was not much traffic that day and by nightfall we were still walking. We could hear lions and hyennas in the distance and we knew that we had made a bad mistake and it was too far to turn back by then. Luckily around 7:30 we saw headlights approaching. As luck would have it, a Greek fellow who knew us stopped and picked us up. What a relief that was! He took us to my friend's house where we stayed overnight. Next day his Dad drove me to my home in Moshi, at the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Time wise, this was early 1955 and fortunately I got an accounting job with Cooper Bros., a large English accounting firm. From time to time they would send a couple of us to another town to audit the books of various companies. It was a great experience staying at hotels and getting paid. 1956, my Dad died; he had a small grocery store. I left my job to look after the store. That was not a good decision but it was what happened.

Extract ID: 4333